Sonia Delaunay    Russian 1884-1979

Sonia Delaunay was born Sonia Terk, in Odessa, Russia in 1884, but brought up in St. Petersburg, where she studied painting. In 1905, she moved to Paris where she met Robert Delaunay, who also worked in both fine art and fashion They married  in 1909. The Delaunays became part of the Dada milieu, living their art in every part of their lives, and they also were leaders of Orphism, an attempt to soften Cubism with lyrical colour.  They were living in Madrid when the Russian revolution took place, and her rich St. Petersburg relatives stopped supporting her. Diaghilev happened to be in Madrid looking for a set designer for his ballet “Cleopatre” and Sonia found her true calling when she designed it for him. Her vibrant geometrics and glowing concentric circles later hat boxes, fabrics and even a car. In 1925, she worked with the textile company Bianchini-Ferier and created printed geometric designs in contrasting colours. In the same year, she produced patchwork designs which were made into coats by Jacques Heim. Her influence can be noted in the work of Jean Patou, Elsa Schiaparelli and other designers of the 20’s and 30’s. She used brilliantly coloured and sharply patterned geometric designs on the ‘simultaneous’ coat worn by Gloria Swanson in 1923. . She returned to painting full time in the thirties and joined the Abstraction-Creation group. She was also active as a printmaker and designer. Her abstract works were displayed at the Louvre when she donated a large group of them along with the work of her deceased husband to the Musee National d’Art Moderne. She died in Paris in 1979 at the age of 93 years.

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